Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fats that are needed by the body. They play a key role in making hormones that regulate blood clotting, contraction, and relaxation of artery walls, and inflammation as well as in keeping the whole body healthy.
There are three main omega-3s:
Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) which come mainly from fish (sardines, herring, salmon and tuna), so they are sometimes called marine omega-3s.
Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) which can be found in vegetable oils and nuts (especially walnuts), flax seeds and flaxseed oil, leafy vegetables, and some animal fat, especially in grass-fed animals.
Here are some of the science-backed benefits we can enjoy from adding omega-3s in our regular diet.
According to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, omega-3 fatty acids are needed for normal infant eye development. DHA (a type of omega-3 and is a major structural component of the retina of the eye ) and other omega-3 fatty acids are found in maternal breast milk and also are added to some supplemented infant formulas. Omega-3 supplemental formulas appear to stimulate visual development in infants.
Moreover, the healthy fatty acids can also protect adults from dry eye syndrome and macular degeneration. Aside from this, it can also help in proper drainage of intraocular fluid, thus lowering one’s risk of glaucoma and high eye pressure.
Participants of a European study published in 2008 have experienced a 50% lowered risk of developing neovascular (“wet”) macular degeneration after they ate oily fish (an excellent source of DHA and EPA omega-3 fatty acids) at least once per week.
Fight Depression and Anxiety
Depression and anxiety are common disorders. Studies suggest that by taking omega-3s regularly, a person is less likely to experience these conditions.
Among the three types of omega-3 fatty acids (ALA, EPA, and DHA), EPA is the most effective against depression.
May Help Prevent Cancer
Omega-3 fatty acids have long been claimed to reduce the risk of certain cancers, which is one of the leading causes of death around the world.
Studies revealed that consumption of omega-3s can help lower down the risk of colon cancer by up to 55%. It has also been proven to be effective in reducing the risk of breast cancer in women and prostate cancer in men.
Helps Reduce Asthma in Children
Asthma is a respiratory condition characterized by difficulty in breathing, wheezing and coughing. It is caused by inflammation and swelling in the airways of the lungs.
Several studies associated omega-3 consumption with a lower risk of asthma in children and young adults.
Helps Boost Heart Health
Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of unsaturated fatty acid that can help reduce inflammation throughout the body. Inflammation in the body can damage our blood vessels and lead to heart disease.
Consumption of these healthy fats may help decrease triglycerides, lower blood pressure, reduce blood clotting, and boost immunity.
Eating one to two servings a week of fish, particularly fish that’s rich in omega-3 fatty acids, appears to reduce the risk of heart disease, particularly sudden cardiac death.